American Lit Paper on Modernism Themes


Modernist literature is characterized by a number of shared techniques that surfaced in poetry and fiction in several manifestations. Some of the most prominent of these were: • Destabilization and fragmentation of reality – surprising and inconsistent metaphors to portray internal or external experiences and reality • Realistic imagery – references and descriptions to real objects and scenes that can be suggestive of symbolism • Stream of consciousness – representation of internal thought through direct reporting • Narration through fragmented, internalized, or multiple viewpoints (usually without indicating to whom each belongs) • Non-linear time – narration that jumps around and does not follow normal chronology • Allusions – symbolic references to mythology, earlier eras, other writers • Self-consciousness and irony – acknowledgments of artifice within the work itself, awareness of social irony • Choose 2 or 3 of the techniques listed above and analyze how they are evident in at least 3 of the texts we have read and studied. Your thesis should incorporate consideration of the following two questions: How does the use of each technique contribute to or detract from conveying each writer’s message and purpose? How is the use of the techniques similar or different between multiple texts? All of the techniques you select do not need to be evident in ALL 3 of the texts you choose. Just make sure that at least 1 technique shows up in at least 2 texts so that you can fulfill the part of the assignment that asks you to compare how authors’ uses of those techniques are similar or different. If you can do this with more than one technique, excellent. You must consult at least 2 external scholarly sources (your selected texts within the anthology do not count as sources) in composing your analysis. Literary criticism journals are excellent academic sources and can help give you insight into how to construct your paper. Popular magazines, newspapers, and non-academic websites do not count as scholarly sources. In order to fulfill the requirements for the paper, you must have a central thesis that asserts a position that is argued and developed throughout the paper. Use specific textual evidence from your selected texts in your analysis and proper MLA formatting of titles and citations. You must also incorporate information from your scholarly sources and cite them properly, both within the paper and in the works cited. The text of the paper (excluding works cited page) must be between 8 and 10 pages. The minimum is 8 complete typed pages and the maximum is 10 typed pages. I would suggest that you consider both the texts from Week 4 and Week 5 as possible choices for the focus of this paper. While the texts in Week 4 are not yet fully “modern” they are anticipating modernism in American literature and would all serve as excellent choices for some of the techniques listed above. Since they anticipate modernism, they begin to show evidence of these techniques and would work well for this paper. Also, using texts from Week 4 would give you more time to plan the paper in advance, assuming you have not worked ahead on Week 5. These are just suggestions to make your planning easier! Week 4 Readings (Mid-20th century poetry and prose): Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art,” “Sestina,” “The Fish,” – William Faulkner, “A Rose for Emily” -Flannery O’Connor, “Good Country People,” -James Wright, “A Blessing,” -Toni Morrison, “Recitatif,” -Sylvia Plath, “Lady Lazarus,” , “Blackberrying,”, “Child,” -Amiri Baraka, “A Poem for Willie Best,” – ee cummings, “somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond” Week 5 Readings (Postmodernism and beyond): -Theodore Roethke, “Cuttings,” “Cuttings (later),” “Elegy for Jane,” -Allen Ginsberg, “A Supermarket in California,” , “Howl,” -Gloria Anzaldua, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” – Alice Walker, “Everyday Use” -Sherman Alexie, “At Navajo Monument Valley Tribal School,” “Crow Testament,” -Junot Diaz, “Drown,”

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